Lance, Kinlaw among nine 49ers primed for breakout seasons


The 49ers have several returning players who are set to have a jump in production in 2022. On the latest episode of "49ers Talk," we took a look at the top nine.

Some players on this list have been under the radar, and others just have more to prove as veterans with the club. No matter the reason, each player on this list has the potential to have a breakout or comeback season this fall. 

9. DL Nick Bosa

Nick Bosa is already one of the top producers on the defensive line with 19.5 sacks in 2021, and the 49ers would be happy if the Ohio State product had the same production for a second consecutive season. One year further removed from his ACL injury, however, will help the pass rusher be even better prepared. 

Bosa might not be under the radar amongst 49ers fans and the NFC West, but he continually is left off of lists of best defensive players, including PFF’s latest Top 5 which included Joey Bosa but not Nick. 

8. DL Charles Omenihu 

Charles Omenihu could prove to be a value trade for the 49ers in 2022. The pass rusher, who was acquired for a 2023 6th-round pick, turns 25 in August and could have his best football still in front of him. 

In his nine games with the club in 2021, Omenihu didn’t record any sacks. But with continued work with defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and playing in one of the deepest defensive line rooms in the league, Omenihu is set for a breakout season. At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, the former Longhorn could be angling for more playing time. 


7. DL Samson Ebukam 

Another pass rusher who will benefit from a second season under Kocurek is Samson Ebukam. The sixth-year lineman recorded 4.5 sacks for a third season in a row for the 49ers and like Omenihu, will benefit from playing along a very talented line. 

With attention constantly on Bosa, Ebukam could have his best season yet, even if only used on a rotational basis. 

6. RT Mike McGlinchey 

Prior to a season-ending knee injury in 2021, Mike McGlinchey was playing some of his best football. Utilizing a sports psychologist to help him be as strong mentally as he was physically was paying off. 

The right tackle had platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections in his knee during multiple offseasons, but finally had a surgical procedure done after an injury in the middle of last season. Now, in a contract year, McGlinchey is ready to prove he has what it takes for a sizable contract when he becomes a free agent in 2023. 

5. WR Jauan Jennings 

The physical wideout appeared in 16 games recording 24 receptions for 284 yards and five touchdowns in his first season on the field for the 49ers. An injury “red-shirt” 2020 appears to have helped Jennings be an instant contributor and that will continue in 2022.

The Tennessee product will likely be a third down and red zone target for Trey Lance as he was in 2021. Jennings will compete with Ray-Ray McCloud and rookie Danny Gray for the WR3 role, but the young receiver has already caught the attention of Charvarius Ward, who was surprised by the receiver's physicality and aggressive style of play. 

4. TE George Kittle 

George Kittle has not broken the 1,000 yard mark since his All-Pro season of 2019, and his breakout second season when he recorded 1,377 yards and five touchdowns. While the tight end’s 910 yards and six touchdowns in 2021 are nothing to scoff at, the Iowa product could see a resurgence in his sixth season. 

Kittle’s former tight ends coach John Embry helped him develop his “no-holds-barred” aggressive nature on the field. Now, with Brian Fleury as his position coach, Kittle could be getting the best of both worlds and a new perspective on the meticulous details that will lead to even greater success on game day. 

3. CB Emmanuel Moseley 

Emmanuel Moseley is entering his fifth season with the 49ers set to compete for the starting cornerback spot opposite Charvarius Ward. Healthy and armed with experience, the Tennessee product will have to win the spot over Ambry Thomas and Jason Verrett. 

Having started 28 games over four seasons, Moseley is the odds-on favorite for the spot and will have the challenge of being targeted more often than not. With that in mind, the veteran defensive back will have the opportunity to record a personal best in takeaways which is a focus of the defense in 2022. Moseley has recorded one interception in each of his last three seasons.  

RELATED: Seven under-the-radar impact players for 49ers in 2022

2. DT Javon Kinlaw 

The hulking defensive lineman has only appeared in 18 games since the club drafted him as the 14th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Now, after Kinlaw underwent a successful second procedure on his knee, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan report that he is happier and healthier than ever. 

Armed with an incredible group of position mates, Kinlaw needs only stay healthy to have a breakout season after remaining in Santa Clara and dedicating his life to his football future. There's no reason the South Carolina product’s sack total won't be well above his 1.5 career high. 

1. QB Trey Lance 

The second-year quarterback is set up for success with one of the league’s most experienced and talented group of skill players at his disposal. After appearing in six games during his rookie campaign, Lance is likely to have ups and downs in his first true season as QB1 -- but expect much more good than bad. 

Workout sessions with his wideouts away from the facility, taking all of the first-team reps during OTAs and another season in Shanahan’s offense will prove to be invaluable for Lance’s production, which was already notable in 2021. 

In three games where the young play-caller made at least 15 pass attempts, Lance had a passer rating of at least 115.0 in two of them.

In comparison to other rookies, Mac Jones started under center for the New England Patriots in all 17 games and only had a passer rating of 115.0 or higher four times. In 12 games, Houston Texans QB Davis Mills hit the mark three times. Jacksonville Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence, Chicago Bears' Justin Fields and New York Jets' Zach Wilson did not hit the benchmark once. 

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